Most kids have no problem understanding the story of Santa: They wake up on Christmas morning and see the proof that he has visited in the night. However, the Christmas story -- detailing the birth of Jesus -- can be a little more abstract, especially for young children. Engaging in activities with your toddler can help him to understand the significance of the story a little more clearly.
Read Books Together
The illustrations in picture books can help bring the Christmas story to life for toddlers, who might not understand all the words or concepts you use in telling it. "Christmas in the Manger," by Nola Buck, is a board book designed for the youngest children in your family, and it tells the story of the first Christmas in illustrations and simple text. "Tell Me the Christmas Story," by Joni Walker, is another board book designed for ages 2 and older. The book tells the story of Christmas and introduces the concept of Jesus as a savior.
Color Pictures Together
When toddlers can do a hands-on activities, they can learn the concept faster. Buy a coloring book or print out coloring pages from sites such as Ministry to Children or Activity Village, and color pictures of the Nativity together. You can point out how the pictures fit into the Christmas story and reinforce the concepts you have learned. This can be especially helpful for harder concepts such as a manger or a shepherd.
Create a Nativity Set
Nativity sets are common symbols of the Christmas story. Making one can get your toddler involved with the story and help him to learn the concepts more easily. You don't have to make anything elaborate. Make figures out of Play-Doh or stick figures out of Popsicle sticks and construction paper. You can also use some of your toddler's dolls to create the Nativity or to act out the story together. This can be especially helpful for visual learners.
Sing Songs Together
Songs are effective ways to teach toddlers concepts, and even if they can't yet sing along with you, they usually enjoy hearing the melody and listening to you. Plenty of popular Christmas carols tell the story of the birth of Jesus, and your church might have other hymns that you can borrow. Popular Christmas carols include "Away in a Manger," "O Come All Ye Faithful," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "The Little Drummer Boy." Include these songs in your other activities. For example, you could pause telling your story and sing a song, or you could build a Nativity set and sing a song about it.
- Christmas in the Manger; Nola Buck; 1998
- Tell Me the Christmas Story; Joni Walker; 2003
- Ministry to Children: Christmas Ideas for Children's Ministry
- Activity Village: The Nativity Story
- Danielle's Place: Christmas Bible Crafts and Activities for Sunday School
- Focus on the Family: Making Meaningful Christmas Memories
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images